Heinz locates sailor who survived on ketchup, plans to buy him a new boat

Elvis Francois, who drifted at sea for more than three weeks, scrawled the word “help” on his sailboat’s hull.

Heinz, the maker of America’s favorite ketchup, launched a search on social media calling for internet sleuths to help track down the sailor from Dominica who spent weeks lost at sea, surviving mostly off the condiment. On Monday, the company announced he was finally found.

As CNN reports, Heinz heard about Elvis Francois’ headline-making ordeal and set out to locate him and help him buy a new boat. The company posted a callout to its Instagram page on Feb. 14, in which Heinz wrote, “We need your help tracking down an amazing man with an amazing story.”

Heinz reportedly reached out to the government of Dominica, as well as the Colombian navy, and initially had no success in locating Francois. The ketchup retailer turned to the public asking for “help with the hunt,” according to a statement shared with CNN.

“We’re also asking for any credible leads to contact Elvis so we can help cover a new boat equipped with full navigational technology to avoid another disaster in the future,” the company added.

As theGrio reported previously, Francois, 47, was making repairs on his sailboat off the island of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where he lives, when currents swept the boat out to sea in December.

The sailor drifted for 24 days in the Caribbean Sea. He scrawled the word “help” in English on the boat’s hull, which rescuers spotted from the air, northwest of Colombia’s Puerto Bolívar. According to the Colombian navy, Francois was ultimately brought to safety by a passing container ship.

Francois later explained to the media that he survived on a homemade brothy substance consisting of bottled ketchup, garlic powder, and Maggi stock cubes mixed with water.

In this photo provided by Colombia’s Navy press office, castaway Elvis Francois is attended by Colombian Navy members after he was rescued near the department of La Guajira, in the extreme north of Colombia, as he sits on board the merchant ship CMA CGM Voltario at the port of Cartagena, Colombia, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. According to the Navy, the 47-year-old from Dominica said he had been adrift for 24 days in the Caribbean Sea after he was repairing a boat last December near the island of Sint-Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles. (Colombian Navy press office via AP)

Heinz urged social media users to add the hashtag #FindTheKetchupBoatGuy as part of the search for Francois.

The company wrote as part of its online call to action, “If you or anyone you know can help us get in contact with Elvis Francois, please drop us a DM.”

On Feb. 27, Heinz revealed that “through the power of social media,” Francois was located in the Caribbean on the island of Dominica, TODAY.com reports.

The company said in an updated post on Instagram that the search to find Francois “was an incredible group effort across six continents, leading to the hundreds of articles and leads and our eventual contact with Elvis. With your help, we were able to #FindTheKetchupBoatGuy.”

A Heinz spokesperson told TODAY.com that the company wants to gift Francois “a new boat equipped with full navigational technology to avoid another disaster in the future.”

“Heinz was able to contact Elvis and discuss the best way to help support him and his family,” the spokesperson said.

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